“This is my daughter, Rahne…”
Total silence. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli couldn’t think straight enough to speak. Finally:
“D-daughter?” Gimli managed.
“Yes, Rahne is my daughter…well…my adopted daughter anyway. I became her Ada, when her parents were killed, as her father was a very good friend of mine. She was only a young child…” Gandalf said.
Rahne jumped lightly down from her horse. The three men looked at her.
She had long wavy hair that looked like fire, a mass of red and copper curls. Her eyes were blue and grey and green, like the sea; none could say what lie in depths. They seemed to be young and yet full of the wisdom of years. Beautiful like a sunrise over the ocean… Aragorn shook his head, wondering where that had come from.
Rahne put a hand over her heart and bowed. “I’m very pleased to meet you, I have heard many stories. ” She said her gaze traveling over the group and stopping for a moment on Aragorn. She stared, but then quickly averted her gaze.
“Why didn’t you tell us, Mithrandir?” Legolas asked.
“A wizard has to have some secrets, doesn’t he?” Gandalf laughed. Rahne turned and spoke to him.
“Ada, I think we need to get to Edoras as soon as possible.” She gave a long look to the wizard.
“You’re quite right. We must go now. Come…” Gandalf swung up onto Shadowfax’s back. Aragorn followed, along with Legolas and Gimli. Rahne leapt up and whispered in her horse’s ear. He turned and started running. The other horses followed.
While they were riding, Aragorn brought his horse along beside Gandalf.
“Who is she really?”
“Her father was one of the Rohirrim. Her mother was a Lorien elf traveling through Rohan to Gondor when she met Eorihc. Though he was mortal, they were married and had a child. When the she was only a few years old, Râna and Eorihc were killed by wargs. I then took her as my own child and raised her. But she has been living with the Rohirrim for many years now. She is truly her father’s daughter.” Both men looked toward the girl riding in front of them. Aragorn found that he had a hard time turning away.
“It is sad to be so young and to have expirienced such tragady…” He trailed off.
“Young? Aragorn, she’s almost as old as you. 73, I think…” Gandalf said. Aragorn stared in astonishment.
“73?! How could she be so old yet so young?”
“Though, her mother was of the elven kind, Rahne is mortal. But because she has elven blood, she has the gift of long life. She will live many more years……at least, I hope she will have the chance. Every day the shadow is growing darker…” Gandalf finished and both lapsed into a somber silence.
During the discussion between Aragorn and Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli rode with Rahne.
“Where are you from? Imladris? Lorien?” She asked Legolas.
“Mirkwood. It’s large forest kingdom beyond the Misty Mountains. The king, Thranduil, is my father.” He looked ahead and pointed. “What’s that?”
Rahne looked and started to gallop toward the hills.
“Edoras!” She called back. Legolas sped up and soon all the horses were galloping across the plains.
They slowed a little when they got nearer.
“Edoras and the Golden Hall of Meduseld. There dwells Théoden, King of Rohan, whose mind is overthrown. Saruman’s hold over King Théoden is now very strong. Be careful what you say. Do not look for welcome here.” Gandalf said and wrapped his grey cloak around him, covering the white robes.
Éowyn, rushed out onto the terrace. She cast her eyes about, first looking out to the great snow-tipped mountains, and the lands far away. Then the horses caught her attention. Suddenly, on its own accord, a flag of Rohan, to her right, ripped from its pole, and sailed out on the wind, across the city. As Aragorn and the others approached the city gate, it fell to the ground, just ahead of them. Puzzled, Aragorn looked down and around, then he entered Edoras.
The four horses walked through the solemn city. The people were dressed in black as if in mourning. They stared at the small company.
“You’ll find more cheer in a graveyard.” Gimli muttered.
They stopped at the stairs to Meduseld and climbed the stairs with Rahne leading them. She stopped when a guard stepped in front of them.
“Hello, Hama.” She said.
“I cannot allow you before Théoden-king so armed.” He replied giving her a glare.
“By whose order!” She said, her smile fading and her eyes growing hard.
“By order of…Grima Wormtongue.”
“Oh, I should have guessed.” Rahne answered grinding her teeth, before flinging back her cloak and drawing two long knives from a leather shoulder sheath. With a nod from Gandalf, Aragorn handed over his sword, Legolas, his bow, and Gimli reluctantly handed over his axe. They moved forward and Hama stopped them again.
“Your staff.” He said gesturing to Gandalf.
“Hmm?” The wizard said innocently “Mm. Oh – you would not part an old man from his – walking stick?” He finished smiling. Hama thought for a moment then tersly nodded his head in the direction of the doorway. They all entered – Gandalf leaning on Rahne’s arm as though he had aged many years.
It was a great hall of many kings and many memories of kings. The pillars were inlaid with gold, from the walls hung banners and standards of the many rulers. At the end of the finely inlaid floor, stood a throne. In the throne sat an old man. Beside the king, another man sat, crouched. Aragorn studied him and found that the only word to describe the man was snake, for that is what he looked like. The man turned and said something to the king.
“The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late, Théoden-King.” Gandalf called. The man whispered again into Theoden’s ear. The king spoke, but it was as if he were in a trance.
“Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow?”
“A just question, my liege.” The man said to the king. He got up and moved toward the group. “Late is the hour in which this conjurer chooses to appear. Lathspell I name him. Ill news is an ill guest.” He looked at Rahne and sneered.
“So…the prodigial has returned…and with lesser company than when you left, I see.” She smiled sweetly.
“Good morning, to you too, Wormtongue…”
Gandalf glared at Grima.
“Be silent! Keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a witless worm!” He pointed his staff at Grima who stared with wide eyes at the wizard.
“Your staff…” Slowly yet impatiently, he called to the guards. “I told you to take the wizard’s staff!”
The guards rushed out from both sides, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli fought them off without much difficulty. One man grabbed Rahne’s waist and tried to pull her over to the doorway, but Aragorn saw her and landed a good sock on the side of the guard’s head. Grima hurried off to the side, while Gandalf approached the king.
“Théoden, Son of Thengel. Too long have you sat in the shadows.”
Gimli spotted Grima cowering on the floor, and held him down.
“I would stay still if I were you!” He growled.
Gandalf moved toward Theoden and reached out his hand. Everyone stopped and stood staring.
“Hearken to me! I release you from the spell.”
They sensed a change in the king. He spoke with a stronger voice. He laughed, taunting.
“You have no power here, Gandalf the Grey. Haha! Ah!!” He gave a cry as he was flung back. Gandalf threw back his grey cloak and there was a flash of light. All beheld the White Rider.
“I shall draw you, Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound.”
Rahne turned to see Eowyn rush to her uncle, but Aragorn stopped her and held her back.
“If I go, Théoden dies.” Saruman spoke through Theoden’s mouth. Gandalf replied
“You will not kill me, you will not kill him.”
“Rohan is mine!”
“Be gone!” Théoden lunged forward, and Gandalf aimed his staff at him, pushing him back in his seat. They felt the presence leave the king and wearyly, Théoden fell forward on his seat, as though about to collapse. Éowyn rushed up to him, after Aragorn released her from his grasp.
Éowyn supported Théoden by his shoulders, and set him back in his seat. Panting, he looks around the hall in awe. And as he did so, he seemed to shed many years. At last, his gaze fell onto Éowyn.
“I know your face.” He said quietly.
Éowyn smiled, and the King looked at her, as though trying to recall a distant memory. He smiled as if he had remembered.
She smiled, and put her hand to the King’s face, tears of joy in her eyes.
Gandalf stepped forward, and Théoden and Éowyn looked up at him.
“Gandalf?” Theoden asked questioningly.
“Breathe the free air again, my friend.” Gandalf smiled.
“Dark have been my dreams of late.” Theoden clenched and unclenched his hand.
“Your fingers would remember their old strength better… if they grasped your sword.” Gandalf turned to Hama, who brought forward a sword. Theoden drew it out and held it aloft, as if relishing the feeling of being in control of his movements again. Then his gaze turnned to Grima.
The guards threw Grima out of the hall and down the stairs.
“Ah! I’ve only… ever… served you my lord!” Grima whined. Théoden cried angrely.
“Your leechcraft would have had me crawling on all fours like a beast!”
“Send me not from your side!”
Théoden raised his sword to kill Grima, but Aragorn blocked his way.
“No my lord! Let him go. Enough blood has been spilled on his account.” He held out his hand to help Grima up. Grima spat on his hand and shoved his way through the crowd.
Hama called to the crowd, gathered.
“Hail, Théoden, King!”
Théoden looked around at the people surrounding him. He searched the faces, but couldn’t find the one he was looking for.
“Where is Théodred? Where is my son?” He cried.